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01.03.2007 General News

SCRAMBLE IN ASHANTI-Addo Kufuor, Hackman, Allan, FONAA sweat it out

By chronicle

Mixed reactions from delegates as some worry over Allan`s failure to cite his achievements

Over the weekend, the Ashanti Region was the campaign territory of four top aspirants for the New Patriotic Party's (NPP) presidential ticket. They virtually chased each other from constituency to constituency, in their bid to secure votes from delegates to enable them lead the ruling party for the 2008 polls.
Dr. Kwame Addo Kufuor, Defence Minister and Member of Parliament (MP) for Manhyia, Messrs. Hackman Owusu Agyemang, Minister of Water Resources Works and Housing and MP for New Juaben North, Allan Kyeremanten, Minister for Trade Industry and President's Special Initiative (PSI) were physically present with their campaign teams to meet and interact with potential delegates for their support.

Foreign Minister Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo, delegated his right hand men, led by his Special Assistant, Mr. Amfo Kwakye with Nich Adi Dako, Nana Eddie Ankama, former Eastern Regional Chairman of the NPP, and Fiifi Amankwah to interact with top constituency executives in the region to prepare the grounds for the Minister, who will be storming the region himself from March 20.

Chronicle's intelligence corroborated by FONAA member, Editor-In-Chief of The Statesman and cousin of the Minister, Mr. Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko established that Nana Addo himself will be taking a two-week leave from office, after the main events of the Fiftieth Independence anniversary to storm the garden city himself.

Mr. Otchere Darko also confirmed to the paper yesterday that the minister's emissaries had the responsibility of assuring Ashanti Region delegates that the Minister was not disregarding them since he had not visited the region since the commencement of his campaign.

Nana Addo's men started their ground-preparing campaigning in the region on Monday when they met with four constituency executives from each of the ten constituencies in the Kumasi metropolis. The four executives were made up of Chairmen, Secretaries, Organizers and Women Organizers, a selection that has left other constituency executives infuriated at their exclusion.

Strategically, Nana Addo's group has partitioned the 39 constituencies in the region into five zones. At each zone, the group will meet with the four executives from each of the constituencies under the zone. Yesterday, the group left Kumasi to meet with executives in the Ejura zone.

At the meeting in Kumasi on Monday, each of the four executives was given ¢200,000.

Allan Cash As usual, Allan, the Trade and Industry Minister's discussion with party men at the various constituencies did not only involve constituency executives. While other aspirants strategically excluded Polling station chairmen in their meeting for now, obviously for financial reasons, Allan, said to be running the most expensive campaign, had all polling station chairmen invited at all the constituencies he visited in the region over the weekend.

At all the 39 constituencies, the Minister gave out ¢4million to the ten constituency executives, while each polling station chairman in attendance went home ¢100,000 richer. At Addo Kufuor's Manhyia Constituency, for instance, there were about 70 polling station chairmen out of the total 127, in attendance.

Constituency executives who spoke to the paper on Monday and Tuesday after their encounter with the PSI minister said, his campaign message was hollow since they expected him to tell them more about his accomplishments as a Minister, a factor he has been avoiding just like the way he avoids media personnel for interviews.

Allan's major campaign message to the delegates was that he was committed to helping the foot soldiers of the party. He told the kingmakers of the party that his decision to include polling station chairman in his meetings with constituents was just an initial demonstration of his commitment to helping party loyalists at the grassroots.

Keen political observers, however, say Allan has been able to include the polling station officials because of the financial wherewithal of his campaign machine, a development that has attracted significant concerns as regards the sources of funding for the campaigns.

“When all the others are talking about their achievements as ministers, he will not tell us what he has done as a Minister and wants us to vote for him. What will he use to fight the NDC during the campaigns, if they say he failed as Minister and cannot therefore be a good president?'' Asked by this reporter whether there was no way the Minister could change the way he thinks about him, he responded 'we have already decided, so Allan and his men should not worry themselves,” a constituency executive told me in a rather surprisingly frank outburst.

Just as himself, Allan's men seem to be uncomfortable granting interviews to the media. Mr. John Kumah, a graduate of the University of Ghana and special assistant to the Minister was first contacted yesterday for his impressions about the Minister's campaign tour over the weekend.

Mr. Kumah said he would prefer that Mr. Stephen Kyeremanten, be spoken to since he (Kumah) was not on the trip to Kumasi. But when Mr. Stephen Kyeremanten was contacted, he said he would wish that the paper uses its own investigative sources to ascertain the success or otherwise of their campaign.

“I am saying this because of two reasons: first, what I may say may not be understood in the proper context and secondly, the people on the ground may give you the objective events about our campaigns,” he told the paper, missing an opportunity to explain what message his mentor had given the people.

Hackman The Works and Housing Minister's message to delegates in the region centred on his contributions to the party since its formative days. According to constituency executives the Minister narrated how he was involved in the formation process of the party, right from its name, colours, symbol to motto.

The Minister was said to have said little about his Ministerial accomplishments but rather said much about his career with the United Nations. Constituency Executives who attended Hackman's campaign meeting parted with some ¢400,000 each.

Mr. Mustapha Cisse, Special Assistant to the Minister told the paper in an interview yesterday that they had successfully toured 33 out of the 39 constituencies in the region.

“The people have realized that Hackman should be the successor to President Kufuor. After listening to him on his contributions to the party, they had no doubts in their minds that he would be the best person to lead the party,” Mr. Cisse said.

“Hackman was instrumental in the drafting of the party's constitution, the choice of symbol for the party, the colours and other things most of which were done in his house. In fact he also even acquired a headquarters building for the party,” Cisse said.

Defence minister The Defence Minister, Dr. Kwame Addo-Kufuor, did not depart from his usual appeal to delegates to look at his accomplishments as a defence minister, as the basis for selecting him as the next flagbearer of the party.

He advised the delegates not to base their decision on financial considerations but on the track records of the personalities seeking to lead the party. The Defence Minister further told the local executives at the various constituencies in the region that it was not true that he had been able to do much at the defence ministry because he had not suffered any reshuffling for the past six years.

“He told us that he has done much at the Ministry because of his own initiatives and proper utilization of monies allocated to his Ministry. So far, the minister has toured 35 out of the 39 constituencies in the region.

Dr. Addo Kufuor told the paper in a brief interview yesterday that his campaign, based on achievements and track record was fast catching up with delegates as a result of which he had earned tremendous support in 32 out of the 35 constituencies he had already toured.

He said he did not want to tell the story himself and asked this reporter to find out from constituency executives in the region as to whether he had their support or not. “You can call any chairman and find out from him or anyone from my group.” His campaign manager Sir John could not be contacted for details.

“Yes he has really done well as compared to the others but I can't tell you whether I will vote for him or not because I am yet to take a decision on who to vote for,” a constituency secretary in one of the constituencies in the Kumasi Metropolis said.

He was not prepared to disclose how much was given to executives by the Minister but said, “Yes we had something for our T&T.”